The current state of retail is one of changing behavior and a massive shift in both spending habits and consumer expectations. According to some experts, more than 50% of Americans prefer online shopping. And e-commerce is growing at nearly 25% per year. And this pace will accelerate as millennials gain more financial power and the children of Generation X parents begin to shop. The future is digital, it seems to safe to say. And while it’s as easy as ever to start an online retail business in terms of selling platforms, drop ship supplies and inventory management tools, picking the right sector essential. Most broad retail verticals have well-established players with deep pockets and serious market share. Want to sell athletic shoes or sunglasses? Good luck moving Zappos and Sunglass Hut out of the way.
When picking a focus for your online retail business it’s best to go deep and narrow. Find a specific niche that you can own, and where there is relatively little competition. One way to figure out whether a niche is worth pursuing is to simply start searching for the items that make up this niche and then surveying the competition. Do the stores at the very top of Google seem like a mom and pop shops or do they seem corporate? You can also do more advanced keyword research to determine both value and competitiveness for the keywords you want to rank for. Google Trends is also a handy tool for finding new niches. To give you a head start we have identified 5 niche areas where there is still an opportunity to penetrate the market.
1. Organic Personal Care Products:
Driven by consumer desire to find healthier alternatives, ethically sourced products, and items that contain no by-products, the organic beauty market is thriving, and it’s expected to top $2 billion dollars this year. The products in this sector include almost any type of personal care item and appeal to the health-conscious consumer. While this is primarily a trend driven by North American consumers it’s spreading to Europe, South America, and Asia, so this is a sector with global potential.
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2. Vitamins and Supplements:
Another niche driven by a move toward a healthier lifestyle is the vitamin and supplements sector. In this case, another driving factor is the fact that the baby boomer generation is aging and seeking ways to stay active and healthy. In fact, this market is already valued at $82 billion globally. While health and wellness are a trillion-dollar industry, it is somewhat saturated. So, pick a niche that is more specific, like CBD oils or other essential oils, which have less penetration.
3. Vaporizers and Luxury Smoke Accessories:
Driven by both a movement toward the cessation of cigarette smoking and the legalization of cannabis across the world, the sale of items like glass bongs, vape pens, and dab rigs is booming. An online headshop is attractive to consumers because they can offer better pricing and more discretion than their brick and mortar counterparts, and this is still a relatively untapped marketplace. And given that experts suggest that the cannabis market will be worth more than $145 billion by 2025, this is still early days in terms of demand and consumer penetration.
Never heard of Matcha? It’s a concentrated Japanese green tea powder that some consider a “miracle supplement” owing to its health benefits. And it’s booming, with matcha bars popping up all over the place. The market for matcha is expected to top $5 billion by 2025, and it’s growing at a rate of over 7% per year. The fact that it’s not very well known yet is what makes this such a valuable opportunity, especially in the online space, where there is not that much competition. The key to a business like this is locating a trusted supplier in Asia and avoid cheap knockoff product.
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5. Pet Supplies:
While your supermarket or local big box store is likely dominated by large-scale pet food companies and there are of course major chain stores devoted to pet supplies, there is a huge marketing online for small batch foods, toys, bedding and other pet supplies. Overall the pet supplies industry take in nearly $85 billion in the United States for 2018. The areas to focus on are natural foods and treats, dietary supplements for senior dogs, unique toys that have a high production value and other unique items of this nature.
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